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Hunter Pence Heads West to SF

In an effort to land a quality right-handed bat for the middle of their lineup and boost the overall production from their outfield, the San Francisco Giants finalized a deal on Tuesday that sent perennial fourth outfielder Nate Schierholtz and prospects Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin to the Philadelphia Phillies for Hunter Pence and cash considerations.  From a reality standpoint, the trade was a no-brainer for the Giants.  They might sacrifice a touch of defense in right field going from the Schierholtz/Gregor Blanco platoon to Pence, but offensively speaking, the upgrade is huge, not just at the position, but for what it does to the middle of the Giants’ order.  But this is fantasy we’re talking about here, so let’s take a look at what this deal does for fantasy owners.

Right off the bat, the main concern for Pence owners is the ballpark change.  Citizens Bank Park plays very hitter-friendly while AT&T Park is a notorious power suppressor and pitcher’s haven.  But how much of that will really matter?  If you look at Pence’s splits, he’s actually been a lot better on the road, posting a .721 OPS at home and an .842 everywhere else.  There’s also the fact that Pence is able to use all fields when hitting and his power comes as a right-handed pull hitter.  If you look at his home run chart with an overlay of AT&T Park’s dimensions, you’ll see that all 17 of his home runs this season would have cleared the fences had he hit them all in San Francisco.  One might have been close; might have even bounced off the top of the wall, but even if we just say 16, that’s still a pretty good percentage.

Overall, Pence has been one of the more consistent hitters in baseball.  From 2008 through 2011, he hit 22 or more home runs, has posted a GB/FB rate between 1.50 and 1.67, a HR/FB ratio between 14.7 and 16.0-percent, and a BB/K that averages around 0.40 over that span.  He’s currently on-pace to go .271-27-92-92-6 this season which isn’t too far off from his average over the last two years which was .314-24-94-88-13.  He’ll form a strong tandem with Buster Posey upon his arrival and when Pablo Sandoval returns, they should make up one of the better 3-4-5 hitters in the game right now.  So basically, from a fantasy perspective, at worst, you’re looking at a lateral move.  But there’s some fantastic upside in there which could push his value even further north.

So not to leave the Phillies side out in the cold, we can certainly acknowledge the fact that they did okay in the trade here as well and offer up a little bit of fantasy help here too.  Schierholtz, who is an above-average defender with a little bit of pop, should see regular time in the outfield and could make for a solid outfielder in NL-only leagues and possibly even deeper mixed ones as well.  Neither Joseph nor Rosin offer any fantasy help this year, but Joseph could be an intriguing option down the road, especially if he sticks as a catcher.  And finally, in addition to this move, the Shane Victorino deal also opens up space for the return of prospect Domonic Brown who’s tremendous potential could translate into a fantastic two-month player here.